FREE SPEECH ZONE | Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority community meeting tonight — without three-day notice

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After being directed to do so by the Minneapolis City Council’s Public Safety Committee, the Civil Rights Department has announced two community meetings seeking comments from the public on its CRA restructuring proposal. The first meeting will be held tonight, 7:00 p.m., Room 319 City Hall. The second will be held on August 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Shiloh Temple, 1201 West Broadway, Minneapolis.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s a link to a previous post detailing the proposed changes to Minneapolis CRA, “Bye-bye to Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority.”

Here’s a letter sent to the Public Safety Committee regarding the notification about tonight’s meeting:

Dear Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Health Committee Members: 

Yesterday, I received an email from a member of the CRA board informing me of tonight’s “community meeting” on the CRA restructuring proposal that was presented to you at your July 25, 2012, committee meeting. It may be that I’m on a list for official notices of such meetings from the Civil Rights Department, because later on Tuesday, at 4:31 p.m., I received a notice from the Civil Rights Department about the meeting to be held 26 1/2 hours later. That notice did also include the second community meeting scheduled on this topic for August 16 at the Shiloh Temple on West Broadway in North Minneapolis.

I have some concerns about the notice for tonight’s meeting.

1. I have no idea how the three-day notice requirement is counted. Charlie Schwartz of the CRA staff informed me that she posted the notice on the CRA’s website on Monday afternoon. If that means Monday is day one, and the day of the meeting, Wednesday, can also be counted, which would make it day three, then technically the three-day notice was provided. (Since I don’t know if I’m on a proper official email “notice list” for such a meeting, I’m putting aside the 26 1/2-hour notice I received from the Civil Rights Department.) Regardless of whether the notice requirement was technically met, on an issue that may be highly controversial in the community, on an issue that your committee specifically requested two such community meetings, and on an issue that there already has been public criticism that it was entirely developed behind closed doors, one would think the public notice would not just meet the minimum requirements. 

2. The CRA board member who informed me of the meeting just happened to go to the CRA website, looking for the agenda of their board meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening. Again, the members of the CRA board are probably among the most interested and most affected community people with respect to this restructuring, yet they weren’t even notified of this community meeting. Not that their comments should be specially solicited — the BPI group did do that already — but maybe CRA board members would be interested in attending this community meeting just to listen to citizen comments.

3. Your committee members are certainly in a similar position. You too might have wanted to attend such a meeting to listen to citizen comments. But when I emailed a member of your committee — the committee that called for these two community meetings — even he hadn’t heard about it yet as of yesterday afternoon. 

4. While this first community meeting may have been scheduled so that people attending the 6:00 p.m. CRA board meeting might find the 7:00 p.m. community meeting convenient to attend, this might necessarily cut short the CRA board meeting. And this is the first CRA board meeting following the presentation of the proposal to your committee last Wednesday. In all likelihood, the board will probably want to have some extensive discussion about how it should proceed in the face of that presentation and the fact that its own alternative proposal apparently got virtually no consideration at all. But because of the 7:00 p.m. community meeting, that CRA discussion may well be cut short. There already has been a proposal from a CRA board member to adjourn their meeting at 6:50 in order to attend the community meeting.

Unfortunately, this process gives the appearance that this community meeting is designed to minimize, not expand, community input.

Sincerely,

Chuck Turchick

 

UPDATE: At the August 1 community meeting on this issue, Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel announced that due to a “mix-up” on getting out the notice for that meeting, a third community meeting has been scheduled for August 21, 7:00 p.m., Room 319 City Hall.

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